3 May 2019

An interview with our CMO

3 May 2019

An interview with our CMO

The last few months have been extra-busy for our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ron Shnier, as he helps I-MED Radiology navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked Dr Shnier to help us understand a bit more what the challenges are for practitioners and patients needing diagnostic imaging during the pandemic.

Is it safe to have medical imaging at this stage?

At our I-MED clinics, our health and safety teams have created numerous stringent protocols to protect both staff and patients to ensure that our clinics can continue to operate as usual. You’ll see some differences both in the waiting areas and in the procedure rooms, and there are rules about the number of people allowed in the clinic at any one time. We also have set up dedicated appointment times for our most vulnerable patients (such as the elderly, immunocompromised and pregnant), to make having a radiology examination as safe as possible for all patients and staff. 

Can people still have most radiology procedures?

Most radiology procedures are still operating at most of our clinics, including x-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI, bone mineral density and nuclear medicine. Some procedures may not be available at certain times, but overall the clinics are operating as far as possible as ‘business as usual’.  

What protocols and precautions do you have in place at I-MED clinics?

As I’ve mentioned, we have strict protocols in place at our clinics regarding social distancing. All the technicians are wearing personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser is provided for patients and reception staff, we have a new ‘paperless’ system for collecting patient permissions, and we’ve also instituted rigorous new cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Is there any imaging you can do to detect COVID -19?

With COVID-19 infection, both chest x-ray and CT scans can show abnormalities in the lungs and well as give an indication as to the severity of infection. While CT scanning is more sensitive than chest x-ray, a ‘normal’ scan result in an asymptomatic patient does not exclude the presence of infection.

What should patients do if they need diagnostic imaging for urgent or chronic conditions?

Your doctor will advise you, and this is advice echoed by the Commonwealth’s most senior medical officer, that during the lock down you should not neglect your ongoing health. That means if you are due for a check-up, or you have an ongoing chronic condition that needs monitoring, or you have injured yourself and you are in pain, then you should seek medical advice. Your GP will make a time to see you, and even arrange a Telehealth consultation with you. 

Can you be referred for medical imaging after a Telehealth consultation with a GP?

Yes, your doctor can refer you on for specialist treatment, pathology or diagnostic imaging even after a telehealth consultation. Your doctor can email an imaging request to us and we can help arrange your appointment. 

With Telehealth, how does my doctor have the films and reports delivered?

Most referring doctors now have their patients’ images and reports sent to them electronically, so they can view your images remotely. The digital quality is exceptionally good, and it negates the need for envelopes of film to be picked up and delivered, which is good news for patient safety and the environment. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when making my appointment for medical imaging, what should I tell the receptionist?

When making your medical imaging appointment, please tell the receptionist if:

  • you have travelled interstate or overseas and are subject to 14-day isolation
  • you have symptoms of fever or acute chest infection, including shortness of breath, sore throat, cough, cold or flu-like symptoms
  • you have been in close contact or casual contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last two weeks

Please also tell the receptionist if you are elderly, immune-compromised or pregnant, and we can arrange for you to come to the clinic during a dedicated ‘vulnerable patients’ time slot.